OCC: CAMELS ratings are confidential; unauthorized disclosure can bring criminal penalties

A reminder that criminal penalties – fines, jail time, or both – may be imposed on federally chartered banks and thrifts for unauthorized disclosure of examination (CAMELS) ratings and certain other supervisory information was issued Tuesday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

“OCC reports of examination and other nonpublic OCC information are the property of the OCC. Except in very limited circumstances, a bank may not disclose this information without the prior written permission of the OCC (see 12 CFR 4.37(b)),” the agency said in Bulletin 2019-15. “This prohibition applies to any portion of a report of examination, supervisory correspondence, and any representations concerning the report or supervisory correspondence, or their findings, including the assigned CAMELS rating. Any unauthorized disclosure or use of nonpublic information may be subject to criminal penalties.”

The circumstances for release of nonpublic OCC information, the agency said, may include disclosure to a parent holding company, director, officer, attorney, auditor, or other specified third party, to the extent consistent with the OCC’s regulations (see 12 CFR 4.37(b)(2)).

The bulletin lists the following as nonpublic OCC information:

  • OCC reports of examination, including CAMELS ratings
  • Supervisory correspondence
  • Bank responses to supervisory correspondence
  • Investigatory files
  • Certain enforcement-related information, including matters requiring attention (MRA)
  • Confidential bank information
  • Other OCC records created or obtained in connection with OCC supervision, licensing, regulation, or examination that are not required to be made available under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552, or that the OCC has not yet published or made publicly available (see 12 CFR 4.32(b)(1))

“Any person who discloses or uses nonpublic information except as expressly permitted by the OCC or as provided by the OCC’s regulations may be subject to the criminal penalties provided in 18 USC 641. This legal prohibition on the release of nonpublic OCC information applies to all financial institutions supervised by the OCC,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin also includes a list of publicly available information that banks may disclose, such as quarterly call reports; the Uniform Bank Performance Report (UBPR); a  bank’s publicly available filings, if any, filed with the OCC or with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); reports or ratings on the bank compiled by private companies that track the performance of financial institutions; reports or ratings issued by private rating services on public debt issued by a bank; publicly available enforcement orders.

OCC Bulletin 2019-15